February 16 - Romans 14:1-4

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Romans 14:1-4 – No Judgment

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

It is sometimes difficult to remember as we're reading Paul's letters, that these aren't moral treatises, but personal letters written to churches with real problems. Paul often knows these churches and their members quite intimately, having lived among them while he started the church. He receives letters from their membership and knows their failures and their successes. When you write a letter, do you often imagine the recipient reading it? Paul not only does that, but he prays for them at the same time. There is nothing that he would like more than to see these people healthy in body, mind and spirit, and to fully accept their role in the kingdom of God.

The person whose faith is weak is not necessarily one who only has a little faith, though that person should also be protected and loved within the Church; but this is a person who may not know all of the rules of the congregation.

It is very easy for Christians to pass moral judgment on others without understanding the background that person brings with them. In the case of the Roman church, they were faced with many different gods, whose offerings were often re-sold as meat to the populace. Those whom they considered 'weak' only ate vegetables, so as to avoid eating unclean meat … meat that might have been killed incorrectly, or sacrificed to an idol. The church was having an argument about this and though it seems insane today, it should be easy enough for us to look at it from the standpoint of some of the arguments that occur within the boundaries of our own church.

Consider the arguments in the 1990s or early 2000s about music in the church. Was it proper to have a drum set in the church … or electric guitars? Could the members sing songs that weren't printed in the hymnal? These questions sparked intense debates and no one cared about the drummer or the guitar player who might have just ventured into the church for the first time in years, only to be reviled and cast away.

Who are you to pass judgment on God's servants? It is before God that a person stands or falls. The Lord is able to make that person stand and for those of us who tear them down, we will find ourselves standing before God in judgment.